Muslim violence directed at embassies of US, Germany and Britain

religion | Sep 14, 2012 | By Martin Barillas


New protests ignited across the Muslim world on September 14 as anger spread over an anti-Islamic video posted on the Internet. The U.S. and other foreign missions have stepped up security following violent attacks that began on September 11. Protests were registered not only in Muslim-majority countries but also the United Kingdom. Protests arose in some 20 countries worldwide.
On September 14, following Friday prayers in Tunisia's capital, police in Tunis fired tear gas at more than a thousand rock-throwing demonstrators. Some of the protesters breached the wall surrounding the U.S. embassy. Black smoke was seen rising from the embassy parking lot, although it is unclear if the protesters had thrown petrol bombs into the area or had set some cars on fire when they scaled the wall. The violence also spread to Sudan, where witnesses said police clashed with thousands of protesters heading toward the U.S. embassy. Protesters are also reported to have breached the German embassy.
Riots greeted Pope Benedict XVI on the day that he arrived in Lebanon. In Tripoli, at least one person was killed in confrotations between police and masses of demonstraters. In addition, hundreds of protesters set a KFC fast-food restaurant as well.. Earlier this week, Israeli Muslims protested against the video 'The Innocence of Muslims' in demonstrations in Tel Aviv.
Two U.S. Navy destroyers are now near the coast of Libya, while a contingent of 50 specially-trained Marines are headed to the U.S. diplomatic missions in the country to beef up security. What are believed to be U.S. drone aircraft flying over Benghazi, where American ambassador Chris Stevens and three embassy personnel were murdered, were the target of anti-aircraft fire from the ground.
Demonstrations continued on September 14 near the U.S. embassy in Cairo, with protesters throwing rocks at riot police, who responded with tear gas. Egyptian security forces also built a barrier to block the route to the embassy. President Mohammed Morsi had earlier asked Egyptian Muslim religious leaders to refrain from inflammatory statements, even while earlier this week he demanded an apology from the United States for the offensive video.
Some of the worst violence occurred in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Demonstrators set a car on fire outside of the German embassy, resisting security who fired tear gas grenades. When the German diplomats fled to the adjacent British embassy, rioters turned their attention there. 
Protests were also reported in Kenya, Malaysia and Indonesia, and security was tight in Kabul, Afghanistan, even though there were no demonstrations. In Benghazi, Libya, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel were killed in an attack on September 11, security was stepped up around the city and the airport temporarily closed.
 U.S. warships are headed to the Libyan coast, while additional U.S. Marine guards were deployed to protect the American embassy in Yemen. Protesters were pushed back on September 14 from the embassy with water cannon and warning shots, after demonstrators breached the wall the day before.
Cairo responds
In many Cairo mosques on September 14, the video, a crudely-made attempt to mock the Prophet Muhammad, was the topic of the day when Muslims gathere for communal prayer.  One imam reminded worshippers that Egyptians, under their new Islamist government, can now openly defend Mohammed, the founder of Islam, from insults. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has condemned the video. He spoke out again on the need to keep protests in check, saying Egypt will never accept the killing of innocents, or attacks on diplomatic missions or personnel. He added it is every government's duty, including Egypt's, to protect ambassadors, missions and tourists.
The appeal for restraint followed what is being described as a frank telephone call overnight between Morsi and President Barack Obama.  The Egyptian leader is reported to have brought up the video, while Obama stressed Egypt's obligation to protect the embassy.
Obama spoke on September 13 about the relationship between the U.S. and Egypt. "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," he said. "They are a new government that's trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think we have to see how they respond to this incident." On a visit to Egypt early in his administration, Obama visited the famous Al-Aqsa mosque and also told listeners in a speech in Cairo that the U.S. is not a Christian country and that it tolerates all religions.
Libyan officials said on September 13 that they have arrested four people in connection with this week's assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens and companions. They have been identified as Information Technology specialist Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.  The officials did not provide details. American intelligence agencies are examining the alleged involvement of pro-al-Qaida militants.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the amateur U.S.-made movie, saying it is disgusting" and "reprehensible."
Tracing the Video
A trailer for the anti-Islamic video was posted on YouTube in July, long before the protests and assaults on American diplomatic personnel and missions. An Arabic-language translation began circulating in the Middle East in recent days. Clips from the movie depict the Mohammad in a satirical and profane light. Called "The Innocence of Muslims," the film was said to have been produced by a man named Sam Bacile, who  have since been indentified in various media as 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a native of Egypt. A resident of California, he was once convicted of bank fraud.  Nakoula says he handled logistics for the production. Another California man who says he served as a consultant to the film, Steve Klein, has given conflicting accounts of the film's origin and funding.  
- From news agencies and VOA's Mike O'Sullivan in Los Angeles, Elizabeth Arrott in Cairo and Carla Babb in Washington.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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